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Does WA L&I Cover Out of State Workers?

My clients often ask the question, “I’ve got a job in [state other than WA]. I pay for L&I here, do I need to worry about worker’s comp there too?

My answer to that is, “In most cases, Yes.”

Washington State Labor and Industries (L&I) is one of only four states in America that has a state-run worker’s compensation system, and they are strapped for cash. Because of this, there are serious restrictions to how and whom they compensate for your workers injured in other states. These restrictions are limited to:

  • The work to be performed
  • The location where the work is to be performed
  • Where the employee is first hired
  • How long the employee will be working

Example: A Washington contractor recently secured a short project in Portland, OR. Instead of sending a crew down there to do the project, they decided to hire the laborers in Oregon and only send project supervisors from Washington to oversee the project.

Why did they do this?Washington has a “reciprocal agreementwith Oregon that states, “Workers’ compensation benefits for injuries and occupational diseases arising out of the temporary employment in the other state shall be payable under the workers’ compensation law of the state the contract of employment arose in.”  This allows the company to shop for workers comp insurance on the private market and save money for that specific project.

Washington has a reciprocal agreement with the following states:

  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

Recommendation: Don’t assume that just because you pay WA L&I premiums that your workers are covered for all projects. Due to the small size and short time of the project, contractors can be denied insurance for certain contracts. Parker Smith & Feek has the ability to negotiate a short policy that is comparable — or cheaper in some cases– to the contractor’s current premiums.

Don’t pass on out of state business opportunities due to Workers Compensation insurance logistics. Contact the Construction Practice Group and we can look into the laws and give you a game plan to lower liability and save money on your out of state contracts.

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